A black college swimmer has filed a lawsuit after a nearly violent interaction with the police, NBC News reports.
20-year-old Jaylan Butler is a sophomore at Eastern Illinois University. Last year, a bus bringing Butler, his teammates, and coaches home from an out-of-state tournament stopped near a rest stop in East Moline, Illinois so the passengers could stretch their legs. Per the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, several police vehicles pulled up as Butler was making his way back to the bus. Officers exited their cars with guns drawn.
According to Butler's lawsuit, several officers forced him to the ground in the snow and handcuffed him. One officer even allegedly squatted down in front of him, put a gun to his head, and said: "If you keep moving, I'm going to blow your fucking head off."
"I felt numb. I didn't really know what to expect," Butler said to NBC News when describing the threat of violence.
A coach got off the bus and told the officers that Butler was a member of the swim team. Although they realized that Butler wasn't the suspect they were looking for, police still put him in the back of the squad car.
"After several minutes of forcing Mr. Butler to lie down on the ground while handcuffed, Defendants allowed Mr. Butler to sit up," the lawsuit says per NBC News. "They did not, however, remove his handcuffs or inform him that he was free to go, even though they had already recognized that Mr. Butler was not the suspect for whom they were searching."
After a few moments, the police removed the handcuffs and asked for Butler's identification. Once he showed him his ID, they let him go. Butler's lawsuit claims that the police never told him or his coaches why he was being detained. It also accuses the officers of not documenting the stop.
Butler has now enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Together they filed a lawsuit in January in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois against the arresting officers for unlawful search and seizure, false arrest and excessive force.